My question is about Set and Relation Theory.

$R$ is a relation on a set $S$.

1) Show that if $R^2 = R$ then $R$ is transitive.

2) Show that if $R$ is transitive and "Reflexive or Symmetric" Then $R=R^2$. (It means that for a transitive and reflexive relation we have $R = R^2$ and for a transitive and Symmetric relation we have $R=R^2$)

For 1, My proof is: Let $aRb$ and $bRc$ then by definition of R^2 we have $a R^2 b$ and because $R^2 = R$, we have $a R c$. so $R$ is transitive.

But I don't know what to do for 2.

Is my answer to "1)" correct? How to approach 2?

  • $\begingroup$ Can you prove that if $R$ is transitive, then $R^2\subseteq R$? What are you missing to be able to prove the other inclusion? How would “reflexive” help? How would “symmetric” help? $\endgroup$ – Arturo Magidin Jun 1 '19 at 18:33
  • $\begingroup$ @ArturoMagidin yes. I can prove that. but we will also need to show that $R \subseteq R^2$. Can i get this from "reflexive" or "symmetric"? $\endgroup$ – amir na Jun 1 '19 at 18:35
  • $\begingroup$ @ArturoMagidin Actually I need to prove that if $aRb$ then there exist a c such that $aRc$ and $cRb$? So I think when it is reflexive that c is $a$ yes? $\endgroup$ – amir na Jun 1 '19 at 18:37
  • $\begingroup$ @ArturoMagidin also, If we exclude the empty elements that are isolated, we can say that for the rest, if relation is symmetric and transitive, it is also reflexive. yes? $\endgroup$ – amir na Jun 1 '19 at 18:41
  • $\begingroup$ That was my question: how can you use “reflexive” to get $R\subseteq R^2$? Yes, you need to show that if $aRb$, then there exists $c$ such that $aRc$ and $cRb$. Would “reflexive” help you there? How about “symmetric”? $\endgroup$ – Arturo Magidin Jun 1 '19 at 18:51

Your answer to the first question is correct.

Now, suppose that $R$ is transitive and reflexive. You want to prove that $R=R^2$. If $a\mathrel Rb$, then, since $b\mathrel Rb$ and $R$ is transitive, $a\mathrel{R^2}b$. So, $R\subset R^2$. And if $a\mathrel{R^2}b$, then there is a $c$ such that $a\mathrel Rc$ and $c\mathrel b$. So, since $R$ is transitive, $a\mathrel Rb$. This proves that $R^2\subset R$. So, $R^2=R$.

Finally, suppose that $R$ is transitive and symmetric. Again, you want to prove that $R=R^2$. If $a\mathrel Rb$, then, since $R$ is symmetric, $b\mathrel Ra$. And, since $b\mathrel Ra$, $a\mathrel Rb$ and $R$ is transitive, $b\mathrel Rb$. Now, since $a\mathrel Rb$, and $b\mathrel Rb$, $a\mathrel{R^2}b$. So, $R\subset R^2$ and you can prove that $R^2\subset R$ as above.

  • $\begingroup$ I am now sure that my answer to the second question in comments is also right. Thank you very much. $\endgroup$ – amir na Jun 1 '19 at 18:43

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